This week about 160 of the Standard & Poor's 500 companies are scheduled to announce earnings, making it the first of the two busiest weeks in the quarterly reporting season.
Among eagerly anticipated results are those from the world's largest chip maker, Intel Corp., and its main rival, Advanced Micro Devices Inc.; No. 1 and No. 2 automakers General Motors Corp. and Ford Motor Co.; and health-care products maker Johnson & Johnson.
With Intel and AMD, the focus will be on what they say about the crucial last quarter of the year, usually the strongest for the personal computer industry. Intel reports on Tuesday and AMD on Wednesday.
"People are going to be looking heavily at the fourth quarter," said Dan Niles, an analyst at Lehman Bros., who expects Intel to report net income of $825 million, or 12 cents a share, on revenue of $6.5 billion.
Santa Clara-based Intel in early September published its mid-quarter update, tightening its revenue range for the third quarter to $6.3 billion to $6.7 billion from $6.3 billion to $6.9 billion, reassuring investors at the time that the troubled PC industry was not getting far worse.
Meanwhile, Sunnyvale-based AMD stunned investors Oct. 2 with news that its third-quarter revenue would be 18% below Wall Street expectations, leading to a large operating loss.
Other big tech names to report this week include IBM Corp. on Wednesday and Microsoft Corp. on Thursday.
The earnings statements from GM and Ford can be expected to show how tough times are for the automakers.
GM, which reports its third-quarter financial results on Tuesday, and Ford, reporting a day later, are expected to show a profit before one-time items and special charges. But the results will be razor thin, analysts said.